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My favourite Tuscan cookbooks, Florentine and a giveaway!

Grandma keeps her cookbooks on a shelf near the fireplace. Less than a dozen books, the same since I can remember. Pellegrino Artusi’s book is the most worn out, her reference book for everything she needs to cook, from carnival fritters to wild boar. In my house there weren’t cookbooks when I was young, just an old fashioned cookery encyclopedia mum collected week after week when she was a newly married woman learning her way through pots and pans. When I was a teenager I started collecting articles and recipes from magazines in a school notebook, keeping a trace of my favourite cakes and pastas.

Florentine

I learnt to cook looking at mum whipping up a ciambellone on Sunday morning sitting on a high stool with an apron so big it looked like a night gown. I learnt many Tuscan recipes doing my homework at grandma’s kitchen table, growing up in the hearty and unpretentious smell of meat sauce, minestrone and fried cutlets.

I learnt to appreciate Tuscan cooking and traditions through cookbooks, too. I bought my first cookbooks when I started working after university, with those small but highly appreciated monthly salaries, which I would spend equally into perfumery products and books.

My favourite Tuscan cookbooks

When I moved into the new studio I decided to select those books which marked my growth in the appreciation of my Tuscan culinary heritage and dedicate a shelf to them. I still use these books everyday as reference books, as inspiration, as guide to my daily cooking.

  • Twelve, a Tuscan cookbook, by Tessa Kiros, is the first book I bought on Tuscan cooking. I discovered how fascinating your home food, the food you grew with, can be when seen from a foreign perspective. With Twelve you’ll spend twelve months in Tuscany, discovering seasonal ingredients and authentic recipes.
  • La cucina Toscana, by Giovanni Righi Parenti. Soon after Twelve I bought this book which has a detailed description of hundreds of typical Tuscan recipes with a special focus on the Sienese traditions. I recognize my accent, my words, my taste in every recipe. It’s a keeper.
  • Il grande libro della vera cucina toscana by Paolo Petroni, available in English as Recipes from Tuscany. Traditional Home Cooking: Yesterday’s Flavours for Today’s Taste. This is probably the most comprehensive collection of Tuscan recipes. Petroni covers each and every area of the region, giving insights on ingredients and traditions unknown to many.
  • Aldo Santini‘s cookbooks. He wrote about Maremma, Livorno and Florence. Every book is a plunge into a specific area of Tuscany, with history, food and an unrivaled humour. Being a food journalist from Livorno, he has a unique attention to this port town and not a very good opinion of Artusi, guilty of not paying enough attention to the recipes and traditions of his beloved hometown.
  • Secrets from my Tuscan kitchen. Judy is an example, she taught me how to be a Tuscan cooking class instructor, dealing with the nitty-gritty of this new profession. She gave me self-confidence and courage, I owe her so much. This is her cookbook, every recipe is tested and they work as magic. A real insight on Tuscan cooking, a book born from her cooking classes.

Florentine

Florentine, the true cuisine of Florence

There is now a new book which entered into my collection and is bound to stay: Florentine, the true cuisine of Florence, written by my friend Emiko Davies.

We met by chance, as it usually happens in the most beautiful friendships. We met on line, as it is happening often lately, thanks to a mutual passion. We met for the first time in Florence, of course sitting at a table. She chose a little trattoria where we had some fabulous local food. From that choice I understood how deeply in love she was with Florence and Tuscan food, how well she knew the town where she had found love, how curious and respectful she was, digging into the Tuscan food culture with restless passion. I instantly knew she was bound to do great.

Five years later, her debut book Florentine is already sold out and it’s being re-printed after just two months.

What I like about Florentine, the cookbook

Emiko’s writing is something you would never stop reading. Her descriptions of Florentine markets and bustling streets of Florence remind me of Elizabeth David’s best passages about Italy and France, one of our shared love.

Florentine has also an unusual structure, as Emiko brings you with her, chatting, along Florence and the book chapters, exploring food and scenes of La Pasticceria (The Pastry Shop), Il Forno (The Bakery), Il Mercato (The Market), La Trattoria (The Trattoria), Il Macellaio (The Butcher) and In giro (Out and about). Every chapter presents the typical food you would find in a Florentine trattoria or market.

Besides this, how not to mention the stunning photos which complement her writing. You will discover the most fascinating corners of Florence, making of Florentine the perfect book for some armchair travel.

Florentine  Florentine

The recipes

Emiko might not be born in Tuscany, but she is one of my references for Tuscan cooking. Her recipes are authentic, genuine and depict a real table in a real Tuscan home. Her penne strascicate have a special place in my heart, as they were one my aunt’s best recipes. She has also a recipe for braciole rifatte, my childhood most intense food memory. She assures you perfectly authentic Italian breakfasts with her cornetti, crostata di marmellata and sfogliatine, something you usually enjoy in a bar while having an espresso. There’s also a selection of panini, not just the most representative street food of Florence, the lampredotto, but also a mouthwatering one with spinach and brie and a panino you can have All’Antico Vinaio, with finocchiona, eggplants and stracchino.

Every recipe is very similar to the food I cook at home, yet not the same. This is probably one of the best signs of the authenticity of her book, as if you are a loyal reader of her blog, or mine, you have already realized how Tuscany is fragmented into small areas with distinct food traditions which differ just on herbs, spices or even just the name of a recipe.

This book is for…

Italian and Tuscan lovers. This book is for those who love cooking according to seasons and local traditions, with simple techniques and incredible results based on the quality of the ingredients. For those fascinated by the history behind Florentine recipes, for those who love to travel through food, photos and memories. For those who appreciate a beautifully written book, captured by the sound of well chosen words and rhythm. This book is for those who want to have a keeper to become expert in Tuscan home cooking and surprise friends with hearty and simple meals.

The giveaway!

Let’s spread good Tuscan cooking all over the world! Hardie Grant and Emiko are giving away a copy of Florentine, The True Cuisine of Florence. The book will be sent anywhere in the world. Just leave a comment below to say which is your favourite Tuscan food. Emiko and I will pick a winner. Get your entries in by 2 June, 2016!

Update!

Congratulation Marie, you won! We both loved your comment full of vivid images and memories!

Florentine

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  1. Anything with rosemary in, so right now, it’s the blood orange and rosemary cake from Emiko’s site!

  2. Hi, love your blog…
    My favorite Tuscan food is ‘torta di ceci’ straight out of a wood fired oven. Delicious.

  3. Every time I spend some weeks in Saturnia I can’t get enough of aquacotta and pecorino with morellino di scansano-jelly (from a little store in Pitigliano). Could live on it!
    Ciao, Sandra (The Netherlands)

  4. La prima volta che mi sono seduta in una trattoria a Firenze, senza sapere che non lascerei la città per alcuni anni, è stato per mangiarmi una meravigliosa ribollita toscana, confortante, calda e piena di sapori che mi hanno fatto sentire come a casa a l’istante. È diventata immediatamente un cibo perfetto per quelle notte fredde e di pioggia che sono cosí abituali a Firenze… ora a Barcellona non l’ho mangiata mai più, e come quasi tutto di Firenze, mi manca tantissimo.

  5. How does one pick the best 😃 But I do absolutely love the fagioli pasta. It’s not fancy but I think it’s the food for would and something that makes you feel so satisfied with even just a bowl of it. What I love about this is the simplicity of the dish and the fact that anyone could afford to cook it 😋

  6. Twenty years ago my brother got married in Angiari. Il primo piatto was the famous Tuscan bean soup. It was light but full of fresh vegetables. The finishing touch was the golden drizzle of olive oil on top. I’ve been trying to relocate that meal but never tastes quite the same. Maybe it’s just Tuscany.

  7. I think I have many favorites but fagioli all’uccelletto, crostini de fagtini, and cacciucco Livorenese are my most enjoyed!

  8. I love and miss the trippa panino from Nerbone in the Mercato Centrale…what I would give to go back for another!

  9. My favourite food from Tuscany is difficult to choose but I have to say that ribollita wins! I love it and I still remember when I had it the first time: a rustic small restourant in Siena.

  10. Ciao! My favorite is Quattro formaggi but you can’t go wrong with anything Tuscan! It truly is a work of art!

  11. I loved all the food when I visited Tuscany, but the gnocchi my sister and I ate with our cooking class with you, was definitely the best! My sister and I are still planning to make it again..

  12. I like so many foods from Tuscany but one of my favorites is Ribolita. This is such a warming, earthy soup, fabulous with a Chianti.

  13. Hello,

    Thank you for this giveaway, you certainly know how to sell a book and I’m dreaming about Italy now! My favorite tuscan food is panzanella, loads of carbs but you still get to say you had salad :).
    Have a great day.

  14. I would love to broaden my Tuscan cooking repertoire and this cookbook seems like the perfect resource. From my somewhat limited experience with Tuscan cuisine, I would say that Ribollita is my favorite.

    Mary Anne in Austin, Texas

  15. i will never ever forget the most beautiful roasted wild boar (cinghiake if my memory serves me right) i had in Radicondoli

  16. What a wonderful list Juls, but I would add your own ‘I love Toscana’ book – one of my favourites ever for the history, the personalities and the sense of belonging in Tuscany that you have infused it with. For the same reason, I cannot wait to read Emiko’s book!
    My favourite Tuscan food would have to be pici al cinghiale. Not only is cinghiale delicious, but I will not forget coming across little families of them in my hikes around the region, and there is something about the chewiness and texture of pici that really takes it to the next level. And of course the best version of this I ate was in Siena!
    x

  17. There are indeed so many wonderful dishes, but a new one that I tried in your very kitchen, Juls was a seasonal spring dish of Agretti with oil and garlic. Amazing and simple! In the sweets category I love ricciarelli! Nothing like almonds and sugar together. Thank you for the chance to have this beautiful, new Florentine cookbook. xo

  18. I was recently in Tuscany and I couldn’t get enough ribollita, so yummy! Pappa al pomodoro too–gotta love soup!

  19. Oh ma che scelta difficile!
    come si fa a preferire i crostini di fegatini alla ribollita, o scegliere tra il lampredotto e la trippa alla fiorentina ( quella di mamma poi, è insuperabile )… e la pappa al pomodoro? vogliamo parlarne?…
    e i dolci?…
    ok, se proprio devo decidere… va bene, dico lampredotto, perché pensandoci adesso mi farei proprio un bel panino!
    completo eh, salsa verde e salsa piccante.

  20. As simple as it is, I am currently loving panzanella.. oh my. Bread, tomatoes… what could possibly be wrong with that? My fondest memory of Tuscany was a family trip when I was 10 or so, my mom and I ate our way through Tuscany one antipasti platter at a time. Or Rovelline Lucchese – Tuscan scallped veal. Thanks for the chance. I love reading your blog.. the recipes inspire me to cook and the pictures make my mouth water. Your stories are from the heart and I love reading them.

  21. First of all, let me thank you and Emiko for the magic of Tuscan recipes you share online. As for the favorite Tuscan food, I’m choosing olive oil, the home made one, extra virgin of course, the one that tastes almost like real olive fruit, just that it isn’t. Anything with that, perhaps only bread to really taste the oil, is what I love most! Good luck with your blogs, I’ll be always happy to read more.

  22. My favorite recipe is probably Tuscan beans, I love slow cooking a big pot of them on grey winter days. Making fresh bread and drizzling in olive oil at the end is lovely. With a bigger family it’s a wonderful dish that seems to make all my children happy (and husband as well). We keep it on rotation through h colder months.

  23. Io metto a pari merito i crostini con i fegatini e la pappa al pomodoro perche’ proprio non riesco a scegliere quale preferisco dei due!
    Ciao e bravissime a tutte e due.

  24. Panzanella! I am a girl of simple tastes 🙂
    The truth is that I also live in a Mediterranean country, Portugal, and I have a deep respect for the Mediterranean cuisine and for the ability of making such simple ingredients (including the staple bread because food is something very precious to be wasted) go a very long way when it comes to taste. For me, this is the real comfort food.

  25. Schiacciata all’uva made with sangiovese grapes is my favorite! Each harvest, as we make wine, I grab a heavy cluster of sangiovese grapes before they get crushed and as the crew is working, I bake the grape focaccia. As we rest at he end of the day, we enjoy food and wine, and the schiacciata is a favorite.

  26. Tuscan cuisine, in particular plates from Florence are my all time favourite. This new cookbook looks great and I know it would help me expand my repertoire. My husband is from Badia a Settimo, 10km from Florence and I’d love to surprise him with some dished in this book!

  27. My favourite Tuscan food would have to be Ribollita – nothing gives more comfort than this hearty soup, topped with my favourite olive oil. I think this is a true testament to the good flavours of Tuscany made from basic, natural ingredients.
    Making my mouth water just thinking about it now! 😉

  28. Where to start…a favourite panzanella with gorgeous tomatoes, would make me happy any day

  29. One of my favorite regions of Italy. The food is simple and yet always full of surprises!! Thanks for a wonderful giveaway and for talking about all of these great books! A Tuscan favorite: bistecca alla Fiorentina! Or how about pappa al pomodoro! Grazie, Juls xx

  30. It would have to be Marmellata di ciligie. Emiko and I exchanged jars of marmalade in the post. She sent me a glorious aubergine coloured one with tied with twine in candy cane colours. I sent her a gingham capped jar of my bergamot marmalade. I would love to have her cook book and journey through her food. x

  31. so nice to see hear you both discovered each other through mutual passion –
    for the love food!
    i am so in love with all things Italian, especially its home style cooking and traditions passed on –
    That is something I have grown up with ever since I was born.
    I found you, Julia first on the Internet, while I was searching for the best way to learn authetic Italian cooking, from there – I found Emiko, and have been following both of you for a while now.
    I love her drawings, and interactions she has with other food lovers!
    Would love to have her book in her hand to discover more detailed version of Italian food, especially in Tuscany.
    I always get the regions mixed up, where each food comes from, what dishes are from where etc.
    My favourite pecorino is definitey comes from Tuscany though!
    xxx

  32. Porchetta is my favorite Tuscan food. I had it first in Siena and dreamt of making it ever since. Finally I tackled one called arista alla fiorentina. Almost as good! Rosemary and garlic infused pork with crunchy cracklings. Yum

  33. One of my favorite regions during my last visit to Italy. The food is simple and yet it is always the simplest food that is the most delicous! Thank you for this wonderful giveaway and for the recommendation of other cookbooks from this beautiful region. One of my favorite Tuscan dish is ribolita, which is so easy to make and delicious with day old bread as well as beautiful verdure picked from my Nonna’s garden or bought at the farmer’s market. Another of my all time favourite is pappa al pomodoro which is a great childhood memory as it reminds me of all the summer days I spend with my Nonna as a child, born in Molise, Campobasso. This dish also reminds me of the summer days I spent in late August, beginning September preparing passata and jarred tomatoes to last us the whole year. My nonna, mom and I always sneaked up upstairs and prepared this dish which is often on the menu during this family gathering event.

  34. Ahhhh, just reading the article and looking at the fotos transported me back to beloved Firenze! First time I had lamb neck was in an amazing stew with white beans at a delightful little place called Il Giardino. WOW! Simple ingredients transformed into a masterpiece of flavor. I was a food novice and had no idea lamb, much less roasted lamb neck bone and white beans could be magical! I still savor the memories!! (Of course I could never turn down gorgeous rare Bistecca all Fiorentina either!)

  35. Many options, but my best one is roasted Tuscan bread with fresh olive oil in November. So unique, you can’t eat that in other parts of the world 🙂

  36. Impossible to choose just one, so I get a whole meal.
    I’d start with an assortment of bruschetta (and some finocchiona maybe) and a panzanella.
    To follow a bowl of ribollita
    Then a fiorentina steak with cannellini beans.
    All paired with some Brunello.
    To finish cantuccini dunked in vin santo…

  37. Pici! I discovered them recently and they are my new obsession! So good when they are homemade. Very excited to hear about this new cookbook! I follow Emiko’s blog and love her work. She is extremely talented.

  38. Frankly, anything that can be eaten with a large espresso, but particularly: a Tuscan apple cake.

  39. I’m not sure I could pick just one favorite for all time, but as summer is fast approaching, I’m thinking of Panzanella. Rustic and luxurious at the same time, with all of the intense flavors that the summer garden has to offer.

  40. Biscotti with almonds and dried apricoats…

    sweet Tuscany taste when the weather in Poland is poor (and while waitng for holiday in Tuscany in September! :))

  41. nonostante io abbia una suocera toscana ho una conoscenza molto superficiale di questa cucina. quindi lascio volentieri un commento, magari mi va bene!!!!

  42. If I have to choose one favorite tuscan food that would be Panzanella.
    easy and delicious. And of course the whole tuscan kithen.

    Nice giveaway!!
    Thank you.

    Best regards,
    Marion

  43. my favourite tuscan food…cantuccini no way I can’t see anything so tipical than this biscuits to eat with a small glass of Vinsanto!there’s no other way than celebrating “Tuscanity”

  44. I was born in Florence, but I never had a tuscan mother or grandmother to teach me the culinary culture of the region I love. This blog was the spark that kindle my passion for cooking and a guide to discover the flavours and the smells that I missed, when I was a child. When, thanks to this blog, I was finally able to make crostini neri (my absolute favourite) you made me a very, very happy man. Thank you for your passion.

    Matteo

  45. Non conosco Emiko Davies e potrebbe essere una buona occasione! Adoro invece Tessa Kiros.

  46. Thank you the giveaway, I would be delighted to win Emikos’cookbook.

    I have many favourite Tuscan food since I lived in Florence six years ago when I was an Au Pair ! I had a fantastic year there and I also used to watch the mother cooking meals during the week and the nonna during the weekend. I learnt to cook different Tuscan food that I brought back home for my family.
    So I would definitely put on top of them the Tortelli di patate (I don’t know how to cook them) that I remember were eaten with a not to spicy sugo. These are really good, very old, with poor ingredients but a delicate taste, and the filling almost melts in the mouth, yummy !
    I love reading your blog (in Italian though) and have printed many recipies that I’m trying to make at home.
    Thank you for the beautiful photos and I love reading the little story behind all new post.

  47. It’s hard for me to pick a favourite Tuscan food. I love them all but if I had to choose one, I would say durum flour bread soaked in good Tuscan extra-virgin olive oil. Nothing so simple but so flavourful! It somehow reminds me the lovely strolls through the hills and through the Tuscan villages that I had when I was on holiday!

  48. Adoro la cucina toscana, e adoro anche il tuo libro Juls… 😉 Ce l’ho e me ne sono perdutamente innamorata.
    E partecipo al giveaway con piacere, questo libro di Emiko deve essere meraviglioso…
    Un abbraccio

  49. Per me vince la panzanella, per forza! Adoro Emiko, su instagram poi posta sempre foto bellissime!

  50. La cecina sicuramente, conosciuta per caso in un bar di bologna! Semplice povera e unta il giusto con olio di buona qualità, penso racchiuda molto della cucina toscana

  51. I defenitely love castagnaccio, or baldino, as it’s called near Arezzo: it reminds me of long winter afternoons entirely spent with my family (dog included), all together in the sofa just in front of firelace.

  52. My favorite recipe are “pappa la pomodoro” (ostreria dei pazzi – florence – the bestrecipe) and cinta senese ragu too!

  53. Memories of lunch with my Grandmother and Grandfather. Thank you Emiko for making all these foods and recipes dear to my heart.
    A good Tuscan Bread, cheese and wine

  54. Mio zio ha vissuto per molto tempo in Toscana. Quando avevo all’incirca 8 anni, siamo andate e trovarlo e lui ha deciso di portarci a cena fuori per festeggiare. Ricordo pochi dettagli del posto in cui ci ha portato. Si trattava di una trattoria rustica, con tavolacci di legno scuro e un titolare che incarnava in pieno la verace toscanità. Prima ha portato in tavola i piatti dicendo alla mia mamma “To’…renditi utile!distribuisci!”…e già questo ci ha fatto sorrideree sentire a casa. Poi ha iniziato a portare le pietanze in tavola. A partire da quel momento non ricordo altro se non il profumo della finocchiona appena affettata e l’aroma pungente e intenso dei crostini coi fegatini. Questa per me è la Toscana e la sua meravigliosa cucina.

  55. Pappardelle al Ragu Di Cinghiale!
    Wherever I eat it, it takes my tastebuds and memory back to old tuscan villas, the sun setting over tall trees, smell of slow cooking vegetables and cinghiale, warm open fires and the soft tuscan breeze in Autumn. Che bello.

  56. Sono cresciuta tra i libri di cucina toscana, ma il Righi Parenti rimane ha sempre un posto d’onore nel mio cuore..

  57. Amo immensamente la Toscana e la sua gente, non parliamo della cucina!
    Grazie mille per i libri che ci hai suggerito! Andranno a popolare la mia biblioteca culinaria! 😉

  58. La cucina toscana, Guido Tommasi editore, autore: LA CUCINA DI CALYCANTHUS 🙂
    LO adoro, anche se cucinare toscano stagionale vivendo in Belgio è un po’ difficile! 😉

  59. as a brazilian girl married with a “veneto DOC”, I can say that I literally fell in love with the italian culture and mostly with italian cuisine. These lovely and early summer days call for a fresh Panzarella, a dish that I learnt to love for its simplicity and originality. I can then say that it’s definetly my favorite tuscan food!

  60. La cucina toscana é il mio punto d’inizio e di fine.
    Anch’io, come te Giulia, ho imparato a cucinare guardando mamma e nonna ai fornelli e anch’io mi porto dietro un ricco bagaglio di ricordi fatti di odori e sapori che solo chi ha la fortuna di nascere o vivere in toscana puó avere.
    Se non vinceró questo libro, sicuramente sarà il mio prossimo acquisto.

  61. On a trip to Tuscany, with my first taste of Ricciarelli, I fell in love with Tuscan baking.

  62. A hot cup of tea and a nice biscuit always wins my heart. Zuccherini’s are one of my favourites. They are yummy, not too sweet and can eat it at anytime of the day! I find them so therapeutic to make. Congrats on your book Emiko.

  63. Jules, I love your blog and your I Love Toscana cookbook. Gracie. I love Twelve by Tessa Kiros too. I find that Toscana never leaves you once you have been there. The senses retain the memories of food as well. I don’t have a favourite, but I will choose Pappardelle al Cinghiale.

  64. My favorite Tuscan food is undoubtedly the pappardelle with hare and the zuccotto, “the dome”.
    Wonderful memories!!!

  65. My favourite Tuscan recipe is schiacciata con uva – grapes in bread was not something I was sure would be delicious, but it is!

  66. sono stata una bimbetta veneta che ha imparato a mangiare i crostini di fegatini dalla sua zia di Firenze….e da allora la Toscana mi é rimasta nel cuore 🙂 ti seguo da tempo, e le tue ricette che ho provato sarebbero sicuramente promosse dalla zia Silvana!

  67. Hallo Juls 😉

    thank to you I discovered Emiko`s blog, some time ago.
    For a very formal dinner I had to prepare for my collegues, I tried also a recipe from her blog, a very difficult one, this one: “Plum wine Tiramisu masquerading as a Pavlova “.
    So many things together, as also my life is, being Italian, from your neighbor region, Umbria, where my roots still are, and living in Germany with a German husband and a little child.
    The cake came to nothing, unfortunately.. the meringues exploded and the filling became as marshmallows. So finally I had two different dessert to serve, my guests were happy: thank Emiko!
    And also thank you, Giulia 😉
    ciao
    Sonia

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